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Hot Zone

Cover of Hot Zone

Hot Zone

Elite Force: That Others May Live Series, Book 2
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"Catherine Mann delivers an emotional and action-packed story that leaves you wanting more." — Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

HE'LL TAKE ANY MISSION, THE RISKIER THE BETTER...

The haunted eyes of pararescueman Hugh Franco should have been her first clue that deep pain roiled beneath the surface. But if Amelia couldn't see the damage, how could she be expected to know he'd break her heart?

SHE'LL PROVE TO BE HIS BIGGEST RISK YET...

Amelia Bailey's not the kind of girl who usually needs rescuing...but there are anything but usual circumstances.

"A powerful, passionate read not to be missed!" — Lori Foster, New York Times Bestselling Author of When You Dare

USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann delivers another hero from the Air Force's celebrated Pararescue Jumpers–"The PJs"– an ultra-elite force who put themselves at extreme risk in the most dangerous emergancies so that others may live. A sizzling thrill-rise of action and attraction, Hot Zone will leave your pulse pounding.

"Catherine Mann delivers an emotional and action-packed story that leaves you wanting more." — Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

HE'LL TAKE ANY MISSION, THE RISKIER THE BETTER...

The haunted eyes of pararescueman Hugh Franco should have been her first clue that deep pain roiled beneath the surface. But if Amelia couldn't see the damage, how could she be expected to know he'd break her heart?

SHE'LL PROVE TO BE HIS BIGGEST RISK YET...

Amelia Bailey's not the kind of girl who usually needs rescuing...but there are anything but usual circumstances.

"A powerful, passionate read not to be missed!" — Lori Foster, New York Times Bestselling Author of When You Dare

USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann delivers another hero from the Air Force's celebrated Pararescue Jumpers–"The PJs"– an ultra-elite force who put themselves at extreme risk in the most dangerous emergancies so that others may live. A sizzling thrill-rise of action and attraction, Hot Zone will leave your pulse pounding.

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    Chapter 1

    The world had caved in on Amelia Bailey.

    Literally.

    Aftershocks from the earthquake still rumbled the gritty earth under her cheek, jarring her out of her hazy micronap. Dust and rocks showered around her. Her skin, her eyes, everything itched and ached after hours-she'd lost track of how many-beneath the rubble.

    The quake had to have hit at least seven on the Richter scale. Although when you ended up with a building on top of you, somehow a Richter scale didn't seem all that pertinent.

    She squeezed her eyelids closed. Inhaling. Exhaling. Inhaling, she drew in slow, even breaths of the dank air filled with dirt. Was this what it was like to be buried alive? She pushed back the panic as forcefully as she'd clawed out a tiny cavern for herself.

    This wasn't how she'd envisioned her trip to the Bahamas when she'd offered to help her brother and sister-in-law with the legalities of international adoption.

    Muffled sounds penetrated, of jackhammers and tractors. Life scurried above her, not that anybody seemed to have heard her shouts. She'd screamed her throat raw until she could only manage a hoarse croak now.

    Time fused in her pitch-black cubby, the air thick with sand. Or disintegrated concrete. She didn't want to think what else. She remembered the first tremor, the dawning realization that her third-floor hotel room in the seaside Bahamas resort was slowly giving way beneath her feet. But after that?

    Her mind blanked.

    How long had she been entombed? Forever, it seemed, but probably more along the lines of half a day while she drifted in and out of consciousness. She wriggled her fingers and toes to keep the circulation moving after being so long immobile. Every inch of her body screamed in agony from scrapes and bruises and probably worse, but she couldn't move enough to check. Still, she welcomed the pain that reassured her she was alive.

    Her body was intact.

    Forget trying to sit up. Her head throbbed from having tried that. The ceiling was maybe six inches above where she lay flat on her belly. Again, she willed back hysteria. The fog of claustrophobia hovered, waiting to swallow her whole.

    More dust sifted around her. The sound of the jackhammers rattled her teeth. They seemed closer, louder, with even a hint of a voice. Was that a dog barking?

    Hope hurt after so many disappointments. Even if her ears heard right, there had to be so many people in need of rescuing after the earthquake. All those efforts could easily be for someone else a few feet away. They might not find her for hours. Days.

    Ever.

    But she couldn't give up. She had to keep fighting. If not for herself, then for the little life beside her, her precious new nephew. She threaded her arm through the tiny hole between them to rub his back, even though he'd long ago given up crying, sinking into a frighteningly long nap. His shoulders rose and fell evenly, thank God, but for how much longer?

    Her fingers wrapped tighter around a rock and she banged steadily against the oppressive wall overhead. Again and again. If only she knew Morse code. Her arm numbed. Needle-like pain prickled down her skin. She gritted her teeth and continued. Didn't the people up there have special listening gear?

    Dim shouts echoed, like a celebration. Someone had been found. Someone else. Her eyes burned with tears that she was too dehydrated to form. Desperation clawed up her throat. What if the rescue party moved on now? Far from her deeply buried spot?

    Time ticked away. Precious seconds. Her left hand gripped the rock tighter, her right hand around the tiny wrist of the child beside her....

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Hot Zone
Hot Zone
Elite Force: That Others May Live Series, Book 2
CATHERINE MANN
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